Realising Utopia: Cinema & 1968

Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible.

Be realistic, demand the impossible.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the student rebellions in 1968, the Ralahine Centre for Utopian Studies will present a curated programme of screenings on the historically significant year of 1968 under the title of Realising Utopia: Cinema & 1968 at Ormston House.

In the spring of 1968, the emerging energy of post-war global political movements that were challenging the economy and culture of contemporary consumer capitalism, Western-colonial occupation, and the U.S. war in Vietnam, while also demanding liberation and civil rights for all, coalesced in a series of confrontations organised by students, workers, and citizens. These combined uprisings marked a turning point that shifted the broad politics of the Left from simple protest to direct physical challenges to the power of State and contemporary society.

In the United States, a new coalition of religious and secular campaigners joined forces with a radicalised student movement against racism and for peace. Second Wave feminist movements and national liberation movements such as the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican Young Lords sprang up almost overnight. In France, the uprisings during May 1968 included demonstrations, general strikes, and the occupation of universities and factories across the country and came to the verge of civil war or revolution. Further international protests sparked broad opposition to imperialism in general, and the U.S. war in Vietnam in particular on campuses, factories, and city streets in Britain, Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere. Related left-wing political mobilisations against Soviet control and for social justice and freedom took place in Prague, Warsaw, and the former Yugoslavia. Closer to home, the spirit of 1968 was expressed in the Civil Rights Campaigns in Northern Ireland and the cultural revolution, primarily led by feminist movements, in the Republic. The most iconic manifestations of these actions were the protests in Paris and the Tlatelolco massacre of protesting students in Mexico City by State forces.

Understanding the global events of 1968 as a transformative moment that brought robust utopian aspirations for justice and freedom firmly into the realities of political power and everyday life, it is clear that the combined actions of that spring marked a progressive turning point in world history, creating what German philosopher Ernst Bloch called a “concrete utopian moment”. While critique and reaction set in over the course of the following decades as the neo-liberal Right rose to power, the substance and spirit of that moment remains an active source of political inspiration in the lives of those who took part then and in the lives of those who have followed after. Consequently, the events of 1968 remain available today to all people as what French philosopher Alain Badiou has called “an historical poem.”


Wednesday 21 February, 7-9pm

The History and Significance of May ‘68

Opening lecture by Professor Helena Sheehan (Dublin City University)

Wednesday 7 March, 7-10pm

Film: Emile de Antonio, In the Year of the Pig (U.S.A, 1968)

Introduction: Tom Moylan (University of Limerick)

Wednesday 21 March, 7-10pm

Film: ‘Prague & 1968: Three Documentaries’ Oratorio for Prague (dir. Jan Němec, 1968 – 30 min); Zmatek (Confusion, dir. Evald Schorm, 1968-69, released in 1989 – 30 min); & Tryzna (Memorial Service, dir. Vlado Kubenko et al., 1969 – 30 min).

Introduction: Pavla Veselá (Charles University Prague)

Wednesday 4 April, 7-10pm

Film: Aryan Kaganof, Metalepsis in Black (South Africa, 2016)

Introduction: Dara Waldron (Limerick School of Art & Design)

Wednesday 18 April, 7-10pm

Film: Jean-Luc Godard, Tout va bien – All’s well (France, 1972)

Introduction: Mariano Paz (University of Limerick)

Wednesday 25 April, 7-10pm

Film: Hans Weingartner, Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei – The Edukators (Germany, 2004)

Introduction: Joachim Fischer (University of Limerick)

Wednesday 9 May, 7-10pm

Film: Philippe Garrel, Les amants réguliers – Regular Lovers (France, 2006)

Introduction: Michael G. Kelly (University of Limerick)

Ralahine Centre for Utopian Studies Workshop: Realising Utopia: 1968, Then and Now

Saturday 26 May 2018, 9.30am-5pm

A day-long Ralahine Centre Community Workshop focusing on the context and significance of the events of 1968, then and now, internationally and in Ireland. It will explore the utopian dimensions of the student rebellions and protest movements of that year and their continuing and available ‘utopian surplus’ for ongoing political movements (Ernst Bloch).




21 February - 26 May 2018 Image: Jean Luc Godard films the protests in Paris, May 1968. Photograph by Serge Hambourg. The Ralahine Centre for Utopian Studies Film & Lecture Series 2018 is presented in partnership with The Limerick Spring, Umbrella Project Arts and Ormston House, with support from the Goethe Institut Irland and the Centre for Irish-German Studies. Special thanks to Cathal McMahon.
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